Yi, At Last

By - June 27, 2007

Remember the scene from Lost In Translation where the Japanese director gives Bill Murray's character about 45 seconds of rapid-fire instruction on how to act for the whiskey commercial and his handler provides a one-sentence translation?

"Is that everything? I mean it seemed like he said a quite bit more than that."

Well, that's kind of how the roundtable interview session with Chinese native Yi Jianlian transpired just a few minutes ago. The 6-foot-11 power forward, who is expected to be selected anywhere between third and ninth in Thursday's draft, showed up six minutes late for his session with an increasingly restless throng of reporters -- a group of several dozen which outnumbered Greg Oden's considerable following.

Chinese media representatives immediately started firing questions in their native tongue and the soft-speaking Jianlian responded before waiting for his passive translator. Angry American reporters soon pushed for the translator to moderate the discussion -- but her inability to control the flow of questioning and project her voice led the NBA folks to call the bullpen. Yi's second translator did a slightly better job -- but his translations for some lengthy responses seemed unusually brief.

Yi remains the enigma in a lottery field that includes a great number of players who have developed high profiles through their success on the collegiate level. Guys like Oden, Mike Conley, Jeff Green, Al Horford and Joakim Noah became household names while playing in this year's Final Four, Kevin Durant was the consensus National Player of the Year as a freshman while Acie Law and Julian Wright played on Top 10 teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament's second weekend. But while the average person on the street could tell you about those guys as a result of that exposure, there are plenty of NBA junkies who still know very little about a guy who could be selected with the No. 3 pick just tomorrow night. I'll have a longer post on the Yi session later in the day once I put some notes together.

I'm wrapping up from the lobby of the Westin, where the players have just walked after a quick wardrobe change on their way to an NBA Cares basketball clinic for local Special Olympics athletes. Horford and Noah just stopped to wave at a couple fans while Oden took the time to snap a few photos with well-wishers in the lobby while his handler chatted on a BlackBerry.

Also, former Connecticut stud Rudy Gay is here. No idea why.

Posted by at 02:05 PM on June 27, 2007

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